Fantasy leagues go through a normal life cycle.
In the beginning, there is the excitement of the novelty. It takes a good few seasons to learn about each of the other owners and their tendencies. There is likely to be some rule tinkering to mold the league to fit the needs of that particular group of personalities. There may be some early turnover.
As a league matures, there becomes a familiarity. We get to know how our actions will be perceived by the other owners. There is a loss of innocence. We may begin to feel strangled by the organization and look for loopholes and ways to bend the rules. Occasional conflict and controversy grows.
In the final stages we see complacency and boredom. The league's position in life's priorities may have shifted. The fire is gone - and in the end, a parting of ways.
The length of a particular league's life cycle is a product of its participants - their fortitude, their flexibility, their innovativeness, and the strength of their friendships.
Every league will likely be faced with a life and death crossroad at one time or another. It is then when the group must decide whether the entity is worth saving, or whether mercy is the better path.
How can you revive a dying league?
The key remedy is change.
Each year, you should keep tweaking the rules to change along with the type of owners who are participating in that year. Some rules may stick, others won't, but the result will be that every year brings some new strategies to keep everyone's interest.
How do you know what type of changes will help rejuvenate your dying league? Sometimes the key to revival requires some intense analysis of the league's ailments.
Major changes are difficult for many leagues to accept, especially those that have been entrenched in a certain style of play for a long time. So if wholesale change cannot remedy the situation, small changes over time might be worth trying.
Some reader comments....
"Our league was about to fold when we realized the problem was that interest completely died off after the All-Star Break. We remedied this with two very easy quick fixes. First, we moved the trading deadline back from July 15 to September 1st. Then we divided the prize pot among the top 8 teams. With nearly everyone in contention for SOMETHING each September, there were fewer teams packing it in early or playing for next year in July."
"Our September roster expansion is done as a supplementary draft over Labor Day Weekend. We add six more active players to each team to help keep interest up. And it's a great excuse for another mini-draft day party."
Some suggestions for change, both typical and unorthodox...
- Increase the number of stat categories
- Change some of the stat categories
- Increase or reduce roster size
- Reduce the number of fixed positional slots and create more flexible positions
- Restructure prize payouts
- Encourage owner interaction by providing added benefits for completed trades (every player traded adds another FAAB dollar to your budget)
- Increase the size of reserve lists; relax rules for accessing the reserve
- Increase the size of your FAAB budgets
- Increase or decrease farm system size
- Increase or decrease roster protection slots
- Institute monthly league meetings; seven-beer limit per owner.
- Use your imagination.
When it comes to change, part of the bigger problem is that we have been fed some global edicts about how this game is supposed to be played. And many people have been so caught up in these rules that they forget that this is all supposed to be fun.
So take a step back. If league survival is important to you, consider making some small changes, then build toward a more global plan. Phase it in over a few years if you have to. Traditionalists may scowl, but better a few disgruntled league members than no league to be disgruntled about.
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